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South America

Peru: Arequipa the land of Volcanoes

After a full day of travel we arrived in Arequipa, as usual, HOURS later than suggested by the bus companies. Gaia's words of wisdom were "the bus companies aren't very good at estimating." So true Gaia, so true.

By about now I was ready for some R&R. We had tried and failed to travel from Sicuani to Chivay in order to visit the Colca Canyon (think condors, hiking, hot springs, huts). No buses went that way so we ended up in Arequipa and since it was another 3am wake up to get to the Canyon we said a big "hell no". I still had a chill in my bones from Rainbow Mountain and 3am was not my jam.

We wandered the city visiting the beautiful colonial buildings and stopping in various artisan shops. Food was a major draw in Arequipa and coffee, pizza, and ice cream were found on every corner. Signs for "city tours" were plastered everywhere so we booked a bus for the following day. The city tour wasn't really anything special (go for the "2" hour and not the "4" hour if you get the chance) but it did take us to some beautiful historical places and the Carmen Alto viewpoint. Picture this: a beautiful valley surrounded by volcanoes.

At Carmen Alto we had the opportunity to go for one of the most scenic ziplines I've ever been on (100 soles). The guides squeezed us in even though we had arrived just at closing time and one of the guides even helped us find a taxi after the trip. They are highly recommended by us (but they don't really speak English).

We spent one more day in Arequipa eating chocolate (there is a place to make chocolate called Chaqchao that also has great food) and tasting artisan beer- well Gaia obviously had juice. Part of our agreement when traveling was that Gaia occasionally was able to choose our dinner. Low and behold, Arequipa has a McDonalds so I found myself eating Micky D's for the first time in a decade. I didn't mind it so much since it brought her so much happiness.

Arequipa is the gateway for adventure sports for all of you adrenaline junkies. Besides ziplining there is white water rafting, horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking, paragliding, mountaineering, you name it. The two deepest canyons in the world are also within a few hour drive from the city. Some of these activities are limited if you're traveling with children, but certainly not impossible! While our visit in Arequipa was short, it was certainly our favourite city of this trip and a must-see if you're headed to Peru.

That pretty much sums up this post, coming next week: sandboarding and dune buggying in Huacachina.